New York Rangers ready for playoffs against lottery bound Blue Jackets
Coming off a rollicking victory over the team who eliminated them from the Eastern Conference finals in June, the New York Rangers admitted that they had little juice left on the second night of a back-to-back in a visit to the eliminated St. Louis Blues.
While the Rangers mustered a point, they were unable to keep pace with the New Jersey Devils, increasing the likelihood their postseason will open on the road.
“There wasn’t a lot of energy with our group,” Gerard Gallant said Thursday. “Obviously back-to-backs and a long flight– you hate to make excuses. Anyway, we got through it.”
New York will hope to generate much better energy Saturday night and get the two points when it visits the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Here’s tonight’s game and broadcast info:
New York Rangers (46-21-12) vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (24-46-8)
Date/Time: April 8, 2023 at 7:00 PM ET
Arena: Nationwide Arena
Radio: ESPN 98.7
New York Rangers take on Blue Jackets
The Rangers (104 points) are four points behind the Devils for second place in the Metropolitan Division and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. As it stands, the rivals are on track to meet in the postseason for the first time since the 2012 Eastern Conference finals.
While the Rangers conclude the season series with Columbus ahead of home games with the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs, the Devils visit the league-best Boston Bruins, host Buffalo and visit the Washington Capitals.
New York coasted to a 6-2 win in the last meeting with Columbus on March 28 at home. Since then, the Rangers are 2-1-2 in their past five after getting mixed results against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Blues.
After scoring the first three goals of a penalty-filled 6-3 home win over the Lightning Wednesday, the Rangers finished with just 24 shots on goal in a 3-2 overtime loss to St. Louis.
With 2:03 remaining in regulation and goalie Jaroslav Halak pulled, Vincent Trocheck scored a tying goal on the power play. The Rangers converted both man advantages and are 5-for-11 on power plays in their past three games.
Vladimir Tarasenko scored the other goal and also set up Trocheck’s tying goal. Patrick Kane was held out for a second straight game as a precaution with a lower-body injury while Trouba played after exiting Wednesday’s game with an upper-body injury.
“It wasn’t our best game all around. It might be the first time in my career I’ve been in back-to-back games in different conferences from home,” Jacob Trouba admitted. “Getting in late after an emotional win for our guys. I don’t want to make excuses, but it was obviously tough with a little bit of sleep and trying to turn it around.”
Columbus (56 points), tied with the Chicago Blackhawks and the Anaheim Ducks for the fewest points in the NHL and hoping to land phenom Connor Bedard by winning the draft lottery.
Per Tankathon, the Ducks are dead last due to only having 13 regulation wins. That gives them 25.5% chance of coming away with the 1st overall pick. Columbus is second with a 13.5% chance and Chicago is third at 11.5%.
The Blue Jackets are 1-5-1 over its past seven games since consecutive overtime wins against Washington and the New York Islanders. During those past seven contests, the Blue Jackets have been outscored 38-12 and allowed six power-play goals.
On Thursday, the Blue Jackets allowed the final five goals of an 8-1 loss to the host Devils.
Columbus had a season-low 17 shots on goal Thursday and played without nine players due to injuries. The Blue Jackets also lost Johnny Gaudreau when he exited after playing three shifts due to an illness that may keep him sidelined Saturday.
The Blueshirts will have a morning skate at 11:30 AM ET, where Gallant will address today’s lineup and the status of Patrick Kane.
Patrick Kane has missed the last two games and is questionable for tonight’s tilt in Columbus. Earlier in the season, a lot was being made of a nagging injury impacting his play with the Chicago Blackhawks.
“He’s maintenance, lower-body, day-to-day,” Gallant noted. “If this was next week he’d be playing. We’re being smart with him.”
Kane, 34, has 55 points in 70 games with 10 points in 16 contests as a Ranger.
Igor Shesterkin is expected back in net as he readies for postseason action.
The 27 year-old is 36-13-7 on the year with a GAA of 2.53 and a .914 save percentage.
–Field Level Media
–Forever Blueshirts contributed to this article